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The Must-Have Breastfeeding Supplies You Should Have BEFORE Your Baby Arrives

There is so much to prepare for when you’re expecting a baby! You’ve gotta make sure you have clothes, diapers & wipes, and plenty of baby gear!

If you’re preparing to breastfeed (which I’d highly encourage!) there are a few breastfeeding supplies you should have on hand before your baby’s arrival. That way, you’re prepared and can set yourself up for a successful breastfeeding journey from the beginning.

mom breastfeeding  a baby with a text overlay that says, "must-have breastfeeding supplies. The things you should have before baby arrives."

Trust me, I should know. I’ve breastfed all of my babies and will be nursing a 7th baby when he arrives in August. Yes, you heard me right. I have breastfed 6 babies so far for a combined total of over 8 years of breastfeeding! I’m looking forward to our new little guy’s arrival and preparing for my home birth.

Must-Have Breastfeeding Essentials

The following is a list of items I’ve made sure to have on hand before my little one arrives. Some of these things I did not have when I had my first baby but I learned my lesson for future babies. They are now definitely breastfeeding essentials for me!

Below that, I’ve taken the time to link all of my favorite breastfeeding products for your convenience. I always recommend these items to new moms.

Nursing Pads

For the first few months of breastfeeding, your breasts are going to leak. The leak won’t be constant but I promise you, it can happen very suddenly. You’ll be walking through the grocery store or sound asleep at 2am and all of a sudden, you get a let-down.

You can nurse your baby while trying to fill your cart with groceries (yes, I’ve done it before) or wake that sleeping infant to have them eat, but you’re still going to get leakage from the breast that is not being used.

After a few weeks, sometimes months, you won’t get the spontaneous let-downs anymore (or at least not as frequently) but you may still have leakage from the breast that’s not being nursed.

Luckily, they make breast pads for this issue and as long as you remember to use them, you won’t be embarrassed by big wet spots on your shirts or a bed that’s drenched with milk midway through the night (yes, been there too!).

I recommend having both disposable nursing pads and washable breast pads. While I prefer the reusable nursing pads, sometimes they are so thick that they are noticeable through your shirt. When I’m around the house though, I don’t really care about that.

You want to be sure to change your breast pads when they get wet so having reusable ones makes it easy to refresh your pads as often as needed without feeling like you are throwing money in the trash can every time you need to swap them.

Nursing Bras or Nursing Tanks

Your breasts are not going to be the same size while breastfeeding that they were pre-pregnancy, or even during your pregnancy (they probably grew) so you’re going to need to buy new bras or a supportive breastfeeding tank top for the girls.

I go from a 32A to a 36D when my milk comes in, then settle into a 34B/C after a few months of nursing, as my milk supply regulates. I personally prefer nursing tanks over bras for two reasons:

  1. By wearing a nursing tank, when I nurse in public and need to lift my shirt, my stomach is still covered. This keeps me warm in the winter and keeps me from having my stomach hanging out which, well, I just don’t want.
  2. I have found that nursing tanks are more comfortable to me and fit my changing breast sizes better than nursing bras.

It can be hard to know exactly what size to purchase which is why I’d recommend just purchasing 2 or 3 bras/tanks to start.

I find that the size that fits at the end of my pregnancy (36 weeks and beyond) is the size I end up wearing for the first few days after baby is born (while waiting for my milk to come in) and then again from about 3 months on. For the first few weeks of breastfeeding (thanks to engorgement), I need to go up a size from that.

Every woman is going to be different, but if I was going to take a guess for you, I’d say purchase 1 nursing tank to fit you at about the 36-week mark and then purchase a second one in one size bigger (cup and band). Then once you know for sure what your size(s) will be, you can order more.

I keep a stash of 34B/C and 36 D/E tanks on hand myself.

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

If you plan to return to work after the baby, you’ll want to have a few hands-free pumping bras. I would recommend that you start out just by purchasing one first to make sure you like that particular brand/style, and then if you do, purchase a few more.

Lansinoh Lanolin or Another Nipple Cream

Those first few weeks, especially when it’s your first time nursing, can be brutal. In fact, if this is the first time you’ll be breastfeeding, I’d encourage you to read my post about the sucky truth about breastfeeding. I share a lot in that article about things I wish someone else had told me about breastfeeding before my first baby was born.

Some ladies experience cracked nipples that literally bleed. While I have escaped that horror, my breasts are often tender for the first 3 months after giving birth. My nipples are always so sore during the first few weeks that when the shower water hits them, it feels like nails.

Trust me, sore nipples are not something you want to tackle without lanolin or another nipple cream to help soothe them.

Sure, you might be one of the lucky ladies who doesn’t have to deal with any of these issues, but you don’t want to find yourself with a cracked nipple, sore, and bleeding without some relief! Lanolin is #1 recommended by lactation consultants in the USA.

As an added bonus, if you don’t end up using the entire tube, I find it is also great for treating sore, chapped lips. No need to let it go to waste!

Breast Therapy Gel Packs

Like Lanolin, these some type of Breast Therapy Gel Packs are important for your comfort during the early days of breastfeeding. If you experience engorgement (which many moms do) using gel packs as cold therapy can be a welcome, soothing relief.

Lansinoh breastfeeding gel packs

You can also use it as hot therapy should you develop a plugged duct or mastitis or use them as a pumping aid to help you achieve a let-down.

Muslin Swaddle Blankets

This might seem like an odd item to add to the list, but I have found my muslin blankets to be very valuable while breastfeeding. I keep one with me at all times because they make great nursing covers and double as soft, large burp rags.

I also often put one underneath the baby in case he/she has a diaper blowout while nursing, especially if we aren’t home. While you could use any blanket for this purpose, I really like the muslin blankets because they are light and breathable.

Uterine Relaxant

Not everyone will experience afterbirth pains with their first child, but I did. No one had ever warned me about them so I was completely caught off guard. It is said that they get worse with every new baby.

Afterbirth pains are contractions in the uterus that feel like bad menstrual cramps. Breastfeeding triggers them for the first 24-72 hours or so after giving birth. Truly they are a good thing because they are helping to shrink your uterus, but they can be rather painful on a body that is already sore.

I have found that WishGarden’s After Ease tincture helps a lot and I start using that normally the second time I nurse my newborn.

Breastfeeding Pillow

Nursing pillows elevate your newborn to an ergonomic position for breastfeeding, helping to relieve your arms and back. You can use some regular pillows if you can’t afford a nursing pillow, but nursing pillows are shaped perfectly to wrap around your body while you nurse.

Look for one that is machine washable (your baby is bound to have spit-up and diaper blowout accidents) and/or offers available covers to limit washings of the entire pillow.

Electric Breast Pump

When I had my first baby, I purchased a cheap battery-powered pump. I planned to be a stay-at-home mom and figured I wouldn’t really need to pump very often, so I assumed any pump would be sufficient.

Boy was I wrong.

Maybe it was the brand I purchased, but this pump was horrible. I had trouble achieving a let-down with it and even when I could, I still had trouble getting very much milk out.

Then I got a new double electric pump. What. A. Difference! I was finally able to not only achieve a let-down but get a lot of milk out too. A good breast pump is now on my list of must-have baby gear items and most definitely a must-have breastfeeding essential!

Even if you plan to stay home with your child, I’d still encourage you to pump and save at least a small stockpile of breast milk. You never know what might come up.

For instance, while breastfeeding my second child, my grandmother unexpectedly suffered a bad stroke. I needed to visit her at a hospital 3 hours away.

Not only did my son hate the car (and would have probably cried the entire time we were driving there), most hospitals don’t want you to bring children into them.

Luckily, I had enough milk for him in my freezer and was able to have someone watch him for the day. Plus, I had my pump to take with me for the trip.

If you plan on returning to work, you’ll want to start pumping early on so you can have a large stockpile ready to go when you head back to work.

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Obviously, if you’re pumping, you’re going to need milk storage bags for all of that milk. Make sure you look for bags that are BPA-Free. I prefer bags that lie flat for freezing and are easy to pour into bottles once thawed.

If you’re looking for a cheap storage system for your milk, check out this DIY Easy Breast Milk Storage System!


If you’re pumping and storing milk, you also need to have bottles on hand. The number of bottles you’ll need will depend on whether you’ll be returning to work outside of the home and away from your baby

Burp Cloths

Your baby is going to spit up and having a burp cloth can help to save her clothes and yours!


Soft cotton bibs are another great way to save your baby’s clothes from frequent spit-up.


It’s important to eat enough calories while nursing. Having healthy snacks on hand is a must! I try to keep fruits and veggies that are easy to grab and eat. I also like to have prepackaged snacks I can grab easily.

And yes, while I try to keep my snacking healthy, sometimes we can all use a sweet snack too, so I keep some of those on hand as well.

Nursing Cover

This is going to depend on your personal preference. Plenty of breastfeeding moms do not use one, but I find them really useful at times.

My Favorite Breastfeeding Supplies Buying Guide

Below is a lineup of my personal favorite breastfeeding essential items, brands, etc. These are the items that made my breastfeeding experience so much better!

Best Breast Feeding Essentials

Here's a list of my favorite must-have breastfeeding products.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Final Advice

While it can sometimes be challenging and there were times I thought about calling it quits, it’s a beautiful experience that I’m so grateful to have been able to share with each of my children.

If you have any questions as you embark on this journey, feel free to comment below or send me a private email.

Also, reach out to a lactation consultant right away if you encounter any issues, especially if you are a first-time breastfeeding mother. These health professions are here to help, and they can be a valuable resource!

Ashley Parks

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

This is a great list Janessa! I breastfed my 3 kiddos for a total of over 5.5 years and I used most of these things! The nursing pillow was my best friend! I never did use a handsfree pumping bra, but I didn't pump much after my first baby. I've heard good things about them though! I also gave up on the nursing cover after the first too and found I could use my own clothes and a burp cloth to be discreet. I love the KeaBabies Multi-Use Cover for covering car seat though!!

Lauryn R

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

This is a fantastic list of supplies you need for breast feeding, thank you so much for sharing! You can never be too prepared for this, in my opinion. One thing that I unfortunately never had was an electric breast pump, so this is a must for me when I have another.

Shauna W

Tuesday 16th of April 2019

Great article. I didn't breastfeed my first but I'm pregnant again and thinking I will breastfeed this time. I really love how you didn't push breastfeeding in this post, and were honest about the downsides. So thank you for a non judgemental informative post.

Alice F

Thursday 3rd of January 2019

These are great tips! Also, I think these items make a great list of items that would make wonderful Baby Shower gifts.


Wednesday 13th of April 2016

This is great. I'm due in September with my second, but it will be my first time breastfeeding. I am wondering, how does the Aden and Anias pillow compare to the Boppy? I have a Boppy, but since I live in the South, where it is warm most of the year, I'm a huge fan of muslin and a muslin pillow might be nice to when we're home and outside both for nursing and as a support pillow for baby.


Wednesday 13th of April 2016

I love muslin too! I really like the aden + anais pillow, but I'm not sure if it would really be any cooler. It's very supportive though and I love the muslin look of it.